Illinois opponent #1: SDSU
With the exhibition games behind them, the Illini can turn their attention to the regular season and their opening game against South Dakota State University
. In preparation of their second season in Division I, the SDSU Jackrabbits earned preseason victories over NAIA Division II Morningside
and NCAA Division II Upper Iowa
Chris Solari of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader
has a preview of the SDSU season
in today's paper. With only five returning letter winners and ten players who've never been in a D-I basketball game, SDSU will be young. But they will be coming off a game at Kentucky, which may rid some of the fear of playing a big-time program like Illinois.
The Jackrabbits have connections to Champaign, especially Centennial High School
. SDSU coach Scott Nagy is a native of Champaign and a Centennial graduate. Nagy was a graduate assistant under Lou Henson for two seasons, including the 1989 season which saw the Flyin' Illini reach the Final Four. His father, Dick, was a longtime assistant at Illinois.
Sophomore Steve Holdren, a projected starter for the Jackrabbits, is a 2004 Centennial graduate. As a senior, he averaged 17.9 points and was the leading rebounder on a Charger's team that went 22-5 and reached the sectional semifinals. The game will be a homecoming for Holdren.
For live radio of the game, turn to WNAX